London was fun, but between being pounded by the Pound and being completely and utterly lost most of the time, Dublin was a welcomed relief. Besides we had American accents and a name like Patrick Wayne Murphy in our back pockets as a conversation starter. The scenic train ride through Northern England to Holyhead Port, with it's lush green landscape, lifted our spirits. The train moved incredibly faster than we had expected and was a mode of transportation that we anticipate enjoying because it provides us an opportunity to get a fast-forwarded view of landscapes outside of the cities and skylines. We then took a 4 hour ferry to Dublin and once ashore we instantly jived with Dublin’s atmosphere.
Upon arriving to our hostel we were relieved to see humane living conditions
. Liam, the overly Irish man working the front desk was jolly and welcoming, a vast difference from the broken English, icy-cold reception we received at Smart Russell. Hostel life proves sometimes difficult while being a great way to stay in a city for travelers on a limited budget. Although the set-ups are generally the same (large common rooms, shared/overused bathroom facilities, and rooms packed to the brim with bunk-beds), it is the little things that make all the difference. For example, in London we found smelly, sloppy, inconsiderate hostelmates, whereas in Dublin we were delighted with people who not only had a regular bathing regiment but were enjoyable to be around.
When we arrived in Dublin after getting a street map (a new strategy we’re considering) and some advice from our friend Liam, we hit the town with as much vigor that we could muster up. We found Dublin to be a very walkable city. We also found the Irish to be a much more accepting crowd with a 'come as you are’ attitude, at the same time confirming all stereotypes. Within minutes of being in Dublin we saw numerous men staggering the city streets (5:30 pm), one in particular had a flaring Irish temper and was seen screaming at his Rastafarian girlfriend surrounded by onlookers.
Our initial gameplan was to go into Temple Bar, the most popular restaurant and bar district in Dublin to get an authentic Irish meal
. However, after realizing that this is something that had been anticipated with prices starting around 18 euro per plate, we quickly settled for an ‘authentic’ Irish grocery store’s pizza. We then went back to our hostel to continue our ongoing rummy game (currently Patrick is winning by 140 points) before heading back into Temple Bar for a good time at the pub. Walking past the countless pubs, one in particular stood out to us. The live music was loud and upbeat with the crowds merrily singing along to Irish classics such as Oh, Danny Boy, I-dee-i-dee-i, and Country Road by John Denver.
Within minutes after grabbing our first pints of Guinness, Ryan was smitten by the Dublin pub life. While belting out, Oasis’s Wonderwall, he came to the conclusion that he MUST be Irish. So we made it our goal to do some investigating. After the flutes stopped tooting, we called it a night so we would have plenty of energy to see Dublin and find Ryan’s ancestors.
After grabbing a quick breakfast provided by our hostel, our first stop was the Jameson Distillery tour. During the tour of the birthplace of Irish whiskey, Patrick was selected as an official taste-tester but graciously opted to literally pass the baton (see picture) over to Ryan, an avid whiskey drinker (yet more evidence of his Irish heritage)
. Suddenly warmer with an extra pep in our step, we visited the Trinity College. This college didn’t have a lot to offer its visitors, except for a large, mysteriously spinning globe and a free science museum. After making up an explanation for the globe (something to do with Newton’s Third Law of Motion??), we decided to give museums another shot. We had a bad track record in the past with being unenthusiastic museum goers, but we realized that this is something we will have to become accustomed to, unless we planned on skipping half of the attractions in any given city. This museum provided us with new hope, as it successfully fascinated us with it’s state-of-the-art exhibits featuring the abilities of artificial intelligence. Halfway through, when we exchanged knock-knock jokes with a robotic dog… we were sold! With our new found attention-span, we decided to test our limits and visit Dublin’s Museum of Natural History. If your vision of natural history looks like the most over-the-top hunting lodge you’ve ever seen, this museum is ‘dead’on (see pictures below).
After hitting our wall, we set off to prove once and for all that Ryan really is of Irish descent. We were lucky to discover "House of Names", a store specializing in coat of arms. We were directed to a very old book featuring the history behind 4,000 of the most popular last names
. We were ecstatic to determine that not only was Meade Irish, but a common surname for the city of Cork. Now full of Irish pride we headed back to the hostel to play a little more rummy (Patrick is currently winning by 260 points). It was then that we quickly became the social butterflies of Ashfield House Hostel. Our rummy game transformed into a cultural bizarre, making friends with foreigners from far-away lands such as Australia, France, the UK, and Wyoming. As the night grew darker, we decided to revisit our favorite Dublin pub with the Aussies. Once there we searched for and found the most Irish-looking dudes to share the excitement of Ryan’s new-found heritage. It wasn’t long before we were arm in arm belting out Sweet Home Alabama.
Dublin was a blast… now on to Cork!
Patrick Wayne Murphy and Ryan O’Meade
*See the strength of the USD vs. the Euro
Hello from the kitchen of our hostel in Cork where we are whipping up a mean penne carbonara with peas. A skill we are going to be forced to become familiar with*.